Nien Nunb was a male Sullustan smuggler. He grew up in the caves of his homeworld, Sullust, with his sister, Aril Nunb. Later, he worked for the SoroSuub Corporation as a smuggler. During one of his smuggling flights, he befriended Lando Calrissian—an individual Nunb would have great deals with in later years. It was with Calrissian that he would copilot the Millennium Falcon during the Battle of Endor. He went on to become the administrator of the Kessel spice mines, and sporadically worked with the New Republic and its successor, the Galactic Alliance.
- "Don't worry. My friend's down there. He'll have that shield down on time. Or this'll be the shortest offensive of all time."
- ―Lando Calrissian to Nien Nunb
In his youth, Nien Nunb became acquainted with Sian Tevv, a fellow Sullustan whose parents regarded Nunb as an unseemly individual and disapproved of his relationship with Tevv. The talented and ambitious Nunb formed a lasting friendship with Tevv, but they eventually went their separate ways, with Nunb mastering the skills necessary to be a spacer while Tevv studied to become a diplomat. Nunb achieved success in his field, entering a legitimate career as one of the top cargo runners of the SoroSuub Corporation, for which he transported minerals and other raw materials to outlying systems. The speed of Nunb's ship and the quality of his work earned him substantial pay and appreciation from his employer, but when SoroSuub chose to support the Galactic Empire and subsequently take control of the Sullust system from its people, Nunb quit the career; in the process, he faced blaster fire and hostile company starfighters.
After some soul-searching, Nunb decided to use his skills—acquired through years of smuggling—to undermine the SoroSuub Corporation. He began stealing SoroSuub consignments from the company and shipping them to the Rebellion; as he hoped to inspire his people and rouse them to action, he committed these acts publicly and with bravado. Others soon began to join Nunb in his efforts, and he and his band of smugglers and outlaws became folk heroes to the Sullustan people. Sian Tevv, now a famous political agitator, provided quiet support to Nunb. SoroSuub established the Home Guard with the goal of defending Sullust and stopping Nunb, and while the Guard virtually eliminated pirate attacks by outsiders, it was less successful in operations against Nunb's gang and other Sullustans. Nunb decided that joining the Rebel Alliance and directly fighting the Empire was the only way to affect change, and his gang soon became affiliated with the Alliance, although an Imperial blockade destroyed their ships while they were attempting to establish contact with the Rebels. SoroSuub later allied with the Alliance as well, offering the Sullust system as a secret staging area for the Rebel fleet, and Nunb was hailed as a hero of his people upon this reversal in policy.
Nunb was chosen especially by Lando Calrissian to co-pilot the Millennium Falcon during the Battle of Endor. Nunb was also instrumental in the Alliance's discovery that the Endor shield generator was still activated: while discussing their inability to get a reading on the Second Death Star's shield status, Nunb posited the theory that the Empire was jamming them, causing Calrissian to realize mid-response that the Empire had anticipated their arrival. Later in the battle, as the Falcon entered the Death Star's superstructure, Nunb reminded Calrissian of the correct concussion missile launch code, allowing the general to fire on and destroy the immense space station's reactor core. As such, he was awarded the Kalidor Crescent for his heroism in participating in the destruction of the Second Death Star. Sometime after Endor, Nunb was again part of the Falcon's crew, this time as the co-pilot of Han Solo. Though Nunb had piloted Solo's starship in wild maneuvers through the shipyards of Fondor, Han could not be convinced by Calrissian to accept Nunb as a temporary substitute for Chewbacca, who was spending time with his family on Kashyyyk. Though suspicious about Nunb's qualities, Han's respect for the Sullustan grew during their mission to rescue the Venerated Ones of Vandelhelm, where he even saved Han's life from a stormtrooper attack, although this development was not reciprocated in Nunb's regard for Solo.
In 13 ABY, Calrissian purchased the spice mines of Kessel and installed Nunb as administrator. The Sullustan managed to dramatically increase the planet's standards by replacing unwilling slave labor with employed species, that like his own people, preferred living underground. In the same year he assisted Calrissian once more as co-pilot in the Battle of Nam Chorios during the Death Seed crisis.
The following year, Nunb returned to Vandelhelm with Solo in the Falcon for the launch of the Solo-class combat freighter in a ceremony celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Vandelhelm mission. While there, Nien again saved the life of Solo, as well as that of Venerated One and Metalsmiths Guildmistress Lillindri Nanimei Filda Vandelhelm XXXII, pushing them clear of a rogue protocol droid before grappling the droid and discharging its own blaster into its neck. The droid had been directed by the Guildmistress' brother and fellow Venerated One, Endrodanar Tiopuld Shaamador Vandelhelm XXIV to assassinate his sister, allowing him to take control of Vandelhelm, while pinning the killing on Nien Nunb as a terrorist act in the name of "Sullustan rights".
In 24 ABY, Torvon, a member of Black Sun acting as Nunb's Second Administrator tried to murder Nunb on Kessel, but the Sullustan administrator survived the assassination attempt. When the mines were overtaken by Czethros, leader of Black Sun, Nunb allied with Jaina Solo and Lowbacca to regain control.
It is said that Nunb was still administrator of Kessel during the war against the Yuuzhan Vong and that he highly increased the planet's defensive systems to hold off the invaders.
Sometime before 43 ABY, he gained a partner's share of the Kessel mines along with Calrissian and his wife Tendra, and helped destroy the subterranean tunnels of Kessel to save the planet from breaking apart from ground quakes.
During 43.5 ABY, Nunb was known to have been a co-owner and manager of of one of Kessel's most prominent mineworks. He was contacted by Ben Skywalker during their search for Sith apprentice Vestara Khai. Nunb informed Ben that a Captain Khai had landed and refueled on Kessel without paying, and had acquired a galactic map update for her ship. He also informed him of the ship's name, She's a Chancer.
Behind the scenes
- "He has a very likable look with those big, black eyes and big stuck-out ears - he kind of reminded me a little bit of Dopey from Snow White."
- ―Mike Quinn on Nien Nunb
The character Nien Nunb was realized as a puppet for his appearance in Return of the Jedi. He was performed by Mike Quinn and Richard Bonehill. Quinn operated Nunb's face, which was a large animatronic hand puppet, and Bonehill was the extra wearing the full body suit.
The name refers to the fact that the character was "Number Nine" on the creature packing list, but like many of the nicknames given by the crew, it was changed for marketing purposes.
Nien Nunb has been used as a gag in several modern cartoons including Family Guy and The Venture Bros. He is also referred to as the "Pancake Kid" by Billy Dee Williams on Robot Chicken.
In Fall 2009, Hasbro released a red B-Wing Pilot in the Legacy Collection Return of the Jedi Line. The figure was named 'Nien Nunb', implying that Nunb was originally the red-suited B-Wing Pilot who stood behind Lando Calrissian in the pre-Endor Briefing Room, and that Lando asked Nunb to be his co-pilot in the Falcon after the briefing. The figure uses the same mold as the Keyan Farlander B-Wing figure, and comes with his own helmet similar to Ten Numb with a breathing apparatus attachment.
Notes and references
- The Essential Guide to Characters
- Star Wars: Head-to-Head Tag Teams
- The Last Command Sourcebook, pp. 25–26 (Under Councilor Sian Tevv)
- Jedi Knights Trading Card Game
- Galaxy Guide 5: Return of the Jedi, Second Edition, pp. 35–37 (Under Nien Nunb)
- Star Wars 98
- Young Jedi Knights: Crisis at Crystal Reef